The Amitabha Sutra - The Sutra Taught by All Buddhas
Why do you think this is called the sutra that is protected and kept in mind by all the Buddhas? If there are good men or women who hear this scripture, uphold it and hear the names of all these Buddhas, these good men and women will be protected and kept in mind by all the Buddhas, and will not retrogress along the path of Supreme, Perfect Enlightenment. Therefore, all of you should faithfully accept what I say and what all the Buddhas have said.
Sakyamuni Buddha told Sariputra that if good men or good women, upon hearing this sutra, sincerely accept and practice it, they will receive the support of all Buddhas. Additionally, they will no longer retrogress along the path of supreme, perfect enlightenment. Inconceivable! It means that once in the Pure Land, thanks to the support of all Buddhas, we will attain non-retrogression.
With non-retrogression we will steadily advance until, finally, we uncover the supreme bodhi mind, the true mind that is already within us. This mind of sincerity, purity, impartiality, proper understanding, and compassion will come forth because our selfishness and worldly desires will no longer obstruct it. Before attaining our ultimate goal of supreme, perfect enlightenment, we will first attain two prior stages of enlightenment.
The first stage of enlightenment is correct enlightenment.
Having eradicated the affliction of views and thoughts, arhats are at this stage. No longer having the incorrect view of self, they no longer think that one’s physical body is oneself. Upon eradicating the affliction of views and thoughts, arhats transcend the six paths. If they do come to these paths again, it will be to fulfill their vows. To accord naturally with the thoughts of the beings they come to help and teach, the arhats will manifest in the forms most effective for teaching. The manifestation bodies are for this purpose. They are not the result of karmic retribution. Buddhas and bodhisattvas manifest in the same way to help those still trapped in the six paths.
The second stage is correct, universal enlightenment.
Bodhisattvas are at this stage. Having eliminated a part of ignorance, seen a part of the true nature, and attained a part of the truth body, the minds of bodhisattvas are very close to the mind of a Buddha. In the sutras, Sakyamuni Buddha drew an analogy between the mind and the moon to illustrate this. The perfect, true mind of a Buddha is like a full moon. The mind of a bodhisattva is like a crescent moon: real, but neither full nor perfect.
The final stage is supreme, perfect enlightenment.
Buddhas are at this stage. Having realized the untroubled and nondiscriminatory mind, they have attained the perfect wisdom that comprehends all truths.
Sakyamuni, having comprehended all truths, once more exhorted us to seek birth in the Pure Land as he urged us to “faithfully accept what I say and what all the Buddhas have said.” Given that all Buddhas always speak the truth, we can believe in this sutra because Sakyamuni Buddha spoke it.
People who can truly practice as good men or good women will receive the inconceivable benefit of non-retrogression. Once in the Pure Land, they will never again regress on the path to buddhahood. Knowing of this unsurpassed benefit for all beings, all the Buddhas dedicate themselves to convincing us to seek birth in the Pure Land. Indeed, this is why all Buddhas teach the Pure Land Dharma door.
— Chapter 43, "Pure Mind, Compassionate Heart: Lessons from the Amitabha Sutra", Venerable Wuling
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